Nintendo’s ninth console has been the talk of the town since the project began to take shape in the Japanese company’s offices. Known by the code name “NX”, the speculation about this platform accumulated during the months leading up to its presentation. Finally, it was unveiled to the world in October 2016, and on March 3, 2017 it arrived in stores around the world. Today marks 4 years since its launch, and it is time to look back and remember what have been the great moments of the console and the games that accompany it. The motto of the console? Play wherever you want.
The main feature of Nintendo Switch, an attraction that flooded its marketing campaign, is that it allows players to choose to enjoy the video games in the console’s catalog in two different ways: with Switch “docked” to its base, which allows us to play the games on a TV or other screen where it is connected; with Switch in portable mode, which gives us the opportunity to play the same games wherever we want. The Joy-Con, the controllers that are part of this system, can be attached to the console to allow users to continue playing in this “tablet mode”.
Switch debuted with these functionalities in March 2017: during its first month it managed to sell more than 2.74 million units, although Nintendo’s sales projections had hovered around 2 million. In less than two years, it had already surpassed GameCube sales with 22.86 million consoles sold as of September 30, 2018. This augured a successful trajectory for Nintendo’s new console, something that was augmented during 2020: the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced gamers around the world to stay at home for as long as possible, boosted Switch sales to nearly 80 million consoles sold as of February 2021.
Nintendo of America’s former president, Reggie Fils-Aimé, had no qualms about recently expressing that the Switch launch was “pivotal” for the company: after the Big N’s flop with the debut of Wii U (which has sold 13.56 million consoles during its lifecycle), the firm needed a new product on which to build momentum. “When your only business is video games the next [console] had to be successful and the Switch continues to be a dynamic platform; selling exceptionally well,” Fils-Aimé assessed.
On July 10, 2019, Nintendo bet on launching a new version of Nintendo Switch on the market: this time, the console bet on becoming solely portable with the birth of Nintendo Switch Lite. For comparison, this handheld has already sold 13.53 million units in a matter of a couple of years, the same figure that Wii U achieved in its entire life cycle. A little later, on September 20, 2019 Nintendo released a “revised” version of Nintendo Switch, which offers a longer battery life.
Nintendo Switch games are distributed both physically in the form of cartridges and through the Nintendo eShop. The device includes 32 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 2 TB by making use of a microSDXC card. The battery life of the standard Switch model is around 2.5 and 6.5 hours; while the upgraded 2019 model reaches 4.5 and 9 hours of independence. The Lite model, meanwhile, reaches 4 and 7 hours.
Accompanying the launch of Nintendo Switch, we discovered titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: a game with which the Japanese firm bet on breaking with the classic mechanics of the saga by offering users an open world Hyrule and new features. To date, it has sold 21.45 million copies. Other titles that went hand in hand with Switch during its first year on the market were Super Mario Odyssey (20.23 million), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (33.41 million) or Splatoon 2 (11.90 million).
Currently the game that continues to add big numbers is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which with its 31.18 million units sold is about to be placed as the best-selling game on Nintendo Switch. The list of game sales for the hybrid platform looks like this at the moment:
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: 33.41 million
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons: 31.18 million
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: 22.85 million
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: 21.45 million
- Pokémon Sword and Shield: 20.35 million
- Super Mario Odyssey: 20.23 million
- Super Mario Party: 13.82 million
- Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!: 13.00 million
- Splatoon 2: 11.90 million
- New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe: 9.82 million
Analysts point out that Nintendo Switch could be the Big N’s first console that “lasts forever.” In this regard, they suggest that the Japanese firm will opt to keep the Switch model and add various improvements over the years, in the same way that Apple does with its iPhone phones. In fact, we are currently waiting to know more information about the so-called Nintendo Switch Pro, of which an insider recently shared some alleged details.
Industry insiders, in turn, advanced that Switch will be the most popular console this 2021 despite the arrival of the PS5 and Xbox X/S Series platforms: “Switch will also be the best-selling console this year, driven by more homegrown games, a hardware upgrade, and gaming becoming a ‘lifestyle’ product.”